This is a reactionary post. I don’t have any deep thoughts or insights to share here but I’ve noticed a situation crop up around me and decided to explore it a bit. And because exploring unknown things is scary and dangerous, I am taking you along with me in case I need a
human shield second perspective.
I think that a lot of us have an anime genre we’re particularly fond of. A category of anime we consistently enjoy regardless of its flaws or general opinion. What I’ve noticed lately though, is that a lot of people seem to think that their genre of choice is somehow maligned or at least very underrated compared to the rest. Honestly, so many people I’ve talked to think others hate all the anime they love and occasionally even judge them for it.
This creates a funny situation where the person feels sort of obligated to watch and defend all anime in the chosen genre even if they really don’t feel that strongly about it deep down, just to prove a point. I’m not saying this is always the case, I’m sure there are some earnest genre protectors out there. But it happens and it’s not always pleasant.
When listening to anime fans of late, I’ve been hearing a lot of heartfelt defences of the harem genre for instance. They’re generally pretty good, the defenses that is. I enjoy reading them, but they are a bit confusing. Granted I get easily confused. So far I’ve read about 7 such posts, tweets comments in the past few months but I’ve never seen any attacking harem as a genre or even disagreeing with the defenses.
I know that I regularly publish defense posts of things that have zero need of being defended. But so far when I’ve done so, I’ve never fooled anyone into following suite. The genre defense is a trend and I wonder if it reflects what fans really think.
Sidenote, in my personal experience, Sports is the genre I’ve been told most often that people dislike but considering we still get a steady stream of offerings each season, I have to imagine somebody likes them. It also occurred to me that my anime loving friends may not be representative of the larger audience. Just because I don’t know many people who openly dislike harems (in fact know a ton that adore them) doesn’t mean they aren’t looked down on in general. This is what I decided to find out. Or getting a dim idea about.
I may not be in the majority here but when you say harem, the titles that come to my head are my beloved Steins;Gate, the hilarious KonoSuba and the raunchy NGNL , as well as more romance oriented series like Snafu and of course the mighty Bakemonogatori. These are all extremely popular and well reviewed series, which made me think the genre in general must be well regarded. Not to mention that each season seems to offer multiple options for the genre. (This same analysis cannot be applied to reverse harems sadly.). In my general observation, the harem genre is usually only out represented by the moe and occasionally ongoing shonen genres which all cater to similar demographics.
It seems that as far as studios are concerned, the genre is popular enough for production. But of course that doesn’t mean it’s well received.
So I figured I would do the highly scientific study of asking a bunch of strangers what they thought about it. I did a Twitter poll…and drumroll please… You guys are right. People do not like harems… I’m genuinely surprised. And confused. I know that with the great volume of harems out there some will inevitably be bad but there are also some fantastic titles in the genre. A lot in fact. Although I haven’t watched it, I’ve read great things about borderline Ecchi: How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord and that was just a run of the mill offering.
Unfortunately, the Twitter comments did not offer any guidance as to why people avoid harems. In fact the comments only talked about sports (distant second) and cgdct (almost tied with sports). And most ere – I don’t watch this but I don’t really know why. I appreciate this honesty.
So instead, let me ask you guys here. Why the Harem discrimination? We all know there are quite a few fantastic anime that fall into the category. And every single genre has its fair share of duds. Is it the uncomfortable mysogenic/borderline pedophilic tropes? That is not a sentence I ever thought I would write. In question form at that. I just got on some super exclusive watch lists I bet!
Those are perfectly reasonable um…reasons… to avoid a particular type of entertainment but let’s face it, you might as well avoid anime in general. These aren’t exactly genre exclusive. Sidenote, I know that I am one of the few people to actually watch reverse harems almost as frequently as actual harems so I can compare the two. This may be a personal issue, but I find the reverse harems depictions of women in general much more insulting. And just to be clear, I’m not insulted by either genre.
Aside from just pure curiosity though, I wanted to write this post because my own misconception of anime fan culture was a bit surprising to me. We all live in a little bubble of our own experiences that doesn’t always collide with the greater realities of the world. I observe trends and movements in the anime community from a very safe distance which at times gives me a rather partial view.
It’s good to be reminded that assumptions aren’t facts, even if they are based on objective experiences. So to sum it up, yes harems do seem to be not well respected, please let me know why! And people really do have genre prejudices, who knew!